The past week on Allen’s road to Boston:
Saturday, September 15
Laura and I made a cameo in Davidson to cheer on folks running the Run for the Green half marathon. We caught some impressive performances while we sipped our coffee flavored with pumpkin spice creamer (which really has no relevance, but it’s just too good not to mention – I’m drinking some now), including strong showings from the Mayes brothers. Adam finished second overall in the 10K (some random 24-year-old kid from Greenville showed up to steal the victory) and Todd won in his first, you heard me, FIRST ever, half marathon. Mark Ulrich ran a 1:28:53 to beat my PR by nearly 30 seconds which, when you consider he ran his on a hilly Davidson course while I ran mine on a flat Myrtle Beach course, is more like 2 minutes.
After the race, we chatted with various running pals, including Adam, Théoden, Mark, Chas, and more. I even got to speak briefly with the world famous leader of DART, one Chad Randolph. I somehow managed to miss Dean who was on the green for the 10K awards ceremony.
We then proceeded to go for a 7 or so mile run of our own on the Davidson trails. Afterward, we had to rush to the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery to make the 1K in time.
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery 1K
We rolled into the brewery with maybe 15 minutes before post time and scrambled to get registered. Does anybody remember when I said I only had 1 streak alive, the OrthoCarolina Classic 10K? I lied – I also have the streak going at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery 1K. But it doesn’t really count since it’s not USATF certified. Only USATF certified courses count towards the streak – that’s how I roll.
Anyway, we parked and rushed to get registered. We barely had time for a quarter of a mile warm-up before we had to toe the line.
Scott, demonstrating the utmost confidence in me, yelled, “Strickland! Eggar is here – it’s over, forget it.” Come on man, have some faith – what if Thomas fell and took out a few other fast guys? After all, he was racing in jorts – it could happen. I knew Matt wasn’t going to win because he didn’t take a pre-race dump in a box.
But yeah, Thomas and Matt were both present so I knew that realistically third place was the best I could hope for. Third still won a growler full of delicious Olde Meck beer so that became my goal.
After a female Olde Meck employee finished chastising us (“Be quiet so I can give you instructions!”), some guy fired an air horn and we took off.
This race was virtually identical to my first 2 Olde Mecklenburg 1K’s. A hundred people who don’t run any races other than this one sprinted for all they were worth. Moments earlier, I overheard one kid say, “I’m just going to run as fast as I can and hang on for as long as I can.” True to his word, he blasted out of the gate, right on the heels of Eggar and Jaskot and the hordes of other sprinters. And just as I expected, he and the hordes were reduced to a slow jog after about 200 meters.
On the backstretch of the 1-block course, I sped up a little and picked off people one by one as they faded. Thomas and Matt had all ready buried everyone by this point, with Dalena and Michelle not far behind. When we rounded the corner and hit the final straightaway, there were still 2 guys between me and a free growler of beer.
One guy was already done as he slowed to a crawl – I blew past him and set my sights on third place. I happened to glance down and notice the guy’s shoes – New Balance Minimus – shit, a ‘real’ runner. But I was gaining and still believed that I could out kick him.
With 100 meters to go, I started an all-out sprint, and tried to gauge if I had enough real estate left to catch the guy. It seemed imminent. Thomas and Matt, already done, noticed how close it was going to be and cheered wildly, “Come on, Allen!!” Hearing another guy’s name, Minimus apparently realized his free growler was in jeopardy and kicked, just enough to finish a couple of feet in front of me. Thomas slapped his hands together and cursed, seemingly as upset over my fourth place as I was. He was probably concerned that I might try and drink out of his free growler.
But just as in the previous 2 years of this event, the real fun came after the race. With your $25 entry fee comes 2 beers and a plate of food. So we all sat around and talked, and drank, and ate, while enjoying a live band whose Hell’s Angels appearance belied their musical proficiency.
When time for the awards came, I ran up to claim Laura’s third place prize (she had to jet earlier to pick up her kids). The photographer made me stay and have my picture taken with the winner, Dalena, and the runner-up, Michelle. As I walked away, some random guy stopped me and asked, “Are you really the third place woman?” So I answered, “Yeah, I sorta have a Castor Semenya thing going on.” He had no idea what I was talking about and just kind of stood there and looked confused.
Sunday, the day after the 1K, I ran the longest run of my training cycle. Monday, I was tight and sore, and this tightness and soreness persisted for days. Wednesday, I was scheduled to run a marathon-paced tempo and stupidly, stubbornly, I insisted upon running the workout.
About 2.5 miles into the planned 6 miles, I felt a sharp pain in my inner left thigh. I immediately stopped and walked while the pain persisted. I tried to jog a little but the leg still hurt. Angry, upset, and, with my marathon only a week and a half away, I worried to the point of near panic.
The next morning, I woke up free of any pain. I had planned on taking the day off from running, but as the work day progressed, I walked around without any discernible discomfort whatsoever, so I started thinking maybe an easy jog would be okay. Around 1:00, I was walking to lunch and getting all excited about dodging the injury bullet when a gaggle of exercisers (my work complex is huge so people briskly walk the halls for exercise, work mall walkers) came barreling around a blind corner. The sound of a rapidly approaching herd scared me and caused me to tense up. Boom – pain in the area that I hurt the night before created a chain reaction across my entire left leg – hip, calf, etc., causing enough pain in my IT band that I started limping. Much cursing and much hatred generated toward the mall walkers. Join a gym, you ashlochs.
So I took the day off, and today I’m anxiously trying to decide if I should run or not. I have 9 days to back away from the ledge. Please feel free to try to talk me down.